The European Commission has published the long awaited Communication on European film in the digital era: Bridging cultural diversity and competitiveness. The Communication – originally a Recommendation – focuses on ways to facilitate the cross-border distribution of European film via new technologies, such as Video on Demand. VoD is regarded by many Commission officials as a rapidly growing and potentially lucrative market which is restructuring audience expectations and has the potential to make the European film sector more competitive.
In order to facilitate the development of these technologies the Commission has proposed two policy objectives. The first is to focus national and Creative Europe funding on the development, distribution and promotion stages of a film’s creation. Around 70 percent of current public funding is allocated to the production phase neglecting key areas which can contribute to the creation of a cross-border strategy such as audience development.
The Communication also observes that the European film sector can maximise audiences if there is a more flexible release window structure in place. It is thought that removing rigid windows will facilitate simultaneous and near simultaneous release strategies which will allow audiences to have rapid access to content the way they want it and allow operators to experiment and test new business models. The increase in legal offers is regarded as an effective tool in the fight against piracy.
The follow up to this Communication will begin soon as the Commission announced on 16th May that they will set up the European Film Forum. The platform will bring together stakeholders from the industry, Commission, member states, and national and regional film funds to discuss the Communication and possible public policies.